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How long does it take to conceive?

Once you've decided to try for a baby you might expect it to happen right away, but be prepared for it to take a bit longer

Posted: 25 February 2010
by ThinkBaby

You and your partner
There's no magic time frame, so be prepared for things to take time

How long?

It's the million dollar question and one that most couples naturally want to know when they decide to have a baby, how long will it take us to conceive? It might make planning your life that little bit harder, but there's no answer to this question: some couples conceive in their first month of trying, or of not using contraception, others can take months or even years and some couples will be unable to conceive naturally. For many women, after years of worrying about unwanted pregnancy, it can come as some surprise to find out that getting pregnant might not be as easy as we thought. To put some perspective on this, an averagely fertile couple has a 20-25% chance of conceiving with each cycle. Around 92% of couples conceive within 24 months of trying for a baby with regular unprotected sex and doctors usually won't start investigating possible fertility problems until a couple has been trying to conceive for a year with no success.

Why is it taking so long?

Medical conditions affecting fertility aside, the main factor affecting fertility is age. It might not be what women in their thirties and delaying starting a family want to hear, but age does play a part in how fertile you are, for the simple reason that as you age, so do your eggs, making fewer eggs are 'viable' (that is, capable of sustaining a pregnancy). According to the UK's National Health Service, a woman in her early twenties is twice as fertile as a woman in her late thirties, with the biggest drop off in fertility happening in the mid-thirties. It's also the case that as you get older the rate of miscarriage rises dramatically. The general rate of miscarriage is believed to be about one-in-five (though it's very difficult to say how many early miscarriages occur that are never noticed because the woman isn't aware that she's pregnant), by the time women reach their forties the rate of miscarriage could be as high as one-in-two.

But before you start to panic, it's very common nowadays for women to wait until their thirties, or even a little later, to start a family and many do so with few or no problems at all. If you do leave it a little later to start a family though, then you should be prepared for it to take longer for you to conceive and to carry a successful pregnancy to term then it would have done in your twenties.

When to seek help

There are many steps you can take yourself to optimise your chances of conceiving like relaxing and improving your diet and your partner's. If you haven't managed to conceive after 12 months of actively trying then your doctor will probably be willing to help. There are various investigations and tests that can be done to see whether subfertility is a problem for either partner. If there is a problem of subfertility it can just as easily be a question of male subfertililty as of female subfertility and can also be a combination of the two, a low sperm count combined with infrequent ovulation, for example.

If you've been charting your fertility signs for a number of months and believe that you're not ovulating your doctor may consider fertility treatment sooner.

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fertility, trying to conceive, pregnancy, ovulation, conception, subfertility

Discuss this story

im a healthy 22 yr old who has given up smoking and was quic to concieve last time, but ive been on the pill 2 years will that alter how long it will take?

Posted: 19/03/2010 at 19:24

hiya hailie, i too was in the same perdictament last year, im 21 and i too was quick to concieve with my 1st but after being on the injection, it took me 6-7moths to concieve with my second, , i fell pregnant in the july and am now 33 weeks pregnant due 5th may 2010, im not sayin it'll be the same, but they do always say that being on contracpetion, instead of just using condoms makes a different in the time you concieve, even tho my friend has been tryin for a few months and she was not on any contraception and she still isnt pregnant.
hope this helps, if ur really worried, do a search on here about contraception they are very good with there answers but i know the injections takes a few months for fertitly to come back.

good luck hunni x

Posted: 20/03/2010 at 10:50

Hi hailie

i was on the pill for 8 years before having my first son at 26 - i came off the pill, had one cycle and fell pg the next month. with my second pg, i never went back on due to bf'ing and as my bf tailed off i fell pg again, my second son is now 6 weeks.

everyone is different, and just cos you have been on the pill doesnt necessarily mean it wil take ages to fall pg again. hopefully you are quite fertile if you fell pg quicky last tim so you might be lucky again. second time around, esp with not being on the pill, i charted my temps to give me a better idea of cycle length and ov period and this really helped. i only did this for one month before falling pg the second month - it made it obv when was the best time to conceive.

good luck, fingers crossed for you xx

Posted: 20/03/2010 at 13:48

thank you both, i was never much good at noticing my temperature changing for ovulation so i have cheated and brought some tests for ovulation. Hopefully we can start trying Friday so excited but trying not too get over excited if that makes sense, just incase at the end of April i get my period i dont want to be dissapointed after only 1 month of trying.. im just too impatient lol xx

Posted: 24/03/2010 at 21:23

Hi Hallie

I was on the pill for 8 years and came off it when I wanted to have a baby, I didn't even have a period and I was pg so it really can vary! My cousin was on the injection for a godd few years and came of it 2 months later she was pregnant. just make sure you're taking you folic acid from now (im sure you are) and try to relax and good luck

vicky and freya xx

Posted: 24/03/2010 at 21:54

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